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Purpose of an Exit Interview

People are not usually good at saying goodbye and saying goodbye at work is no exception. Sometimes you are sad to see employees go because they are talented, and you care about them personally. Other times, you might be relieved that they are going on with their lives. An exit interview can be a great way to leave the relationship in the best place possible.

What is an Exit Interview?

A one-on-one discussion gives the interviewer the opportunity to ask useful questions and gain an understanding of how employees feel about the organization. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for the organization to get feedback about an employee’s experience. By gathering feedback, it can help the organization identify areas for improvement, reduce turnover, and especially improve the culture within the organization.

What is the purpose of an exit interview?

An exit interview is the perfect time and place to ensure employees understand any lingering obligations like equipment, non-competes, intellectual property agreements, etc.

Remember, you might not be the only one with questions. Your employee might have a few things they would like answered as well such as COBRA insurance, or any other work issue that might be on their minds.

An employee exit interview can provide a lot of clarity. People need to be heard. If you don’t give your employees the opportunity to share feedback privately before they leave they may find ways to do it more publicly after they are gone. Don’t forget Glassdoor, Facebook or other social media.

Schedule the meeting

An employee’s last day is typically the best time to conduct an exit interview. It might even be a good idea to have it be the very last thing they do before heading out. It should be scheduled well ahead of the last day so your employee can be prepared. You should also provide an explanation or agenda of exactly what you will be discussing so that the departing employee knows you understand the importance of this interview. You will also enable them to provide more thoughtful answers to your questions by giving them time to think about what they and you will be talking about.

If your organization has temporary, seasonal or remote employees, online avenues may be the best way to conduct employee exit interviews. While certainly less personal, this method is better than not conducting an exit interview at all.

Implement the feedback

This is the most important tip. The information you gather in an exit interview will not do you any good if you don’t do anything with the information. Take advantage of the full value of exit interviews by carefully recording and implementing the feedback. Not all feedback will require action but when you notice a pattern or large issues, act on it and create a plan to start acting immediately.

It is important for the interviewer to remember that it is especially important that you don’t let anything slip that could create legal risk for the company.

You may have employees who don’t want to do an exit interview. Don’t force them. It will leave a sour taste in their mouth and likely won’t result in anything productive anyway. If you have paperwork they need to sign or procedures they need to complete, stop by their desk or office and give them a task list with due dates. Then check in as their final day approaches to ensure all offboarding ducks are in a row.


Before your employee walks out the door for the last time ensure you have done everything you can to learn from the employee while trying to keep the relationship in an amicable place. When done carefully exit interviews provide benefits for your company and your departing employee. If nothing else, it provides an opportunity to wrap up any final to-dos and say goodbye.

Remember, positive culture comes from a well-adjusted organization where employees can feel safe, confident and trusting that their company will recognize and act upon issues that affect their employees. The exit interview presents a unique opportunity to do that by making changes and acting upon information that will help make the company thrive and grow.


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